St. Augustine Road Trip

I have an awesome husband.  He stayed home this weekend, washed the kitchen floor grout, re-painted the kitchen table, ferried children to all their activities, and monitored the eating, sleeping and hygienic habits of our children, my sister’s children and our 4 dogs…while my sister and I went to St. Augustine for a few days.

He’s my hero.

St. Augustine is beautiful.  I must go back there.

In brief:

Got a great walk-in deal at the oldest hotel in the oldest city.  Highly recommend it.  (But why do the nicest hotels charge $10/day for wi-fi when a Howard Johnson’s does it for free?  Why?)

Met the natives.

Went to jail.

Friendly people.

Went shopping.

See explanation below.

Had beautiful blue skies.

The cathedral

Statue in the cathedral’s courtyard

Had some not so blue skies which gave us off and on rain.

The fort.

Considered napping, but didn’t.

Spanish guard room bunks.

British barracks bunks – for 4.

Overlooking the town.

 Talking to locals gets you the best tip on places to eat.  We had lunch and dinner based on recommendations from a guy we met on the trolley going around town.  Loved the cheese-ale soup at A1A Aleworks.  After vigil Mass at the cathedral, we ate at a place called Casa Maya for dinner.  Yummy.

Earlier, we reserved spots on a ghost tour/pub crawl that began at 830 pm.  With some time to kill between dinner and the tour, we went and got tattoos.  Seriously, I don’t think my husband will let me go anywhere with my sister again.

Actually, he doesn’t mind.  It’s a tasteful pair of roses.

And it’s just henna.

Sunday morning breakfast at the Athena Cafe.

This sundial on the wall of the cathedral tower would be correct if not for Daylight Savings.  It was actually 830 am.

 Quick trip to the landing spot of Pedro Menendez in 1565.

And visiting the Shrine to Our Lady of La Leche.

Saw the oldest tree in St Augustine, a 640 year old live oak in the Ho-Jo parking lot.  The one with free wi-fi.

A wall made of tabby construction.  That means made from mud and sea shells.  Do not confuse it with coquina, which is also mud and sea shells, but coquina is natural and tabby is man-made.

We did not drink from the Fountain of Youth, so I still have my gray hair.

Decided to cross the Bridge of Lions to see the ocean.  We got there just as the drawbridge was going up.  I got out and took pictures.  See that group of people on the side?  They had posterboard signs.  We asked them what they were doing.  They were waiting for a boat…

Not one of these boats…

That man’s daughter was boating with her boyfriend.  He was going to propose marriage.  Their signs said, “Will you marry me?”  Isn’t that sweet?  My sister and I had fun talking to strangers all weekend.

Waiting for the bridge…

Great day for boating…especially if it means a diamond ring…

Any day now…

We actually didn’t see the ocean because you had to pay to go to the park, and we’ve already seen the ocean.  Once or twice.  We went back to the historic district.

City gate

Just hanging out in the bay…ah, the life…
Magnolia Street – lined by live oaks.

The afternoon came too quickly.  We got to see a bit of the Browns game where we ate lunch (they were playing Miami, and we tried hard to not be too loud as we rooted for our team).  Then we hit an outlet mall, and came home.

They survived, but nobody slept…neither kids nor dogs, hence not Bill.  Good thing it was only 2 nights!

Sunday Morning Coming Down

We went to Mass last night, and Bill is dropping the older boys off to go canoeing today.

Bill plans to take Jenny out for lunch and to get her ears pierced – her birthday present.

I’m listening to my irreverent “Sunday Morning” playlist.  One of my favorite songs is Sunday Morning Coming Down, and my version has the Man in Black singing in a slow, mournful tone, much sadder than the version here.  If you’ve never felt lonely or separated from the love of God, you won’t get that song.  If you felt that way once upon a time, it will remind you to be thankful you no longer do.

The other songs on the list are very singable.  I picked them because they remind me of songs my father might have sung on weekend mornings, playing his guitar and serenading his sleeping children until they awoke.  Some of the songs, like Bed of Roses, are thematically inappropriate for children, and yet, my children know them as well as I did at their age.  Other songs, like Summertime by Kenny Chesney, are modern, but my dad might have learned to play them had they been out 30 years ago.

There are no church songs in my playlist.  I hope you still love me after that confession.

I’m stuck in my kitchen/family room area, because I’m making waffles.  Everybody has eaten their fill, but I’m making 4 batches, which should get us through the week.  I have one waffle iron, and it takes 6 minutes to cook.  Each batch makes about 6 waffles.  I’m not doing the math for you, but I won’t be going anywhere for a bit.  Perhaps my blog reading will get caught up.  Or my checkbook will be balanced.

I turned the A/C off two days ago.  That’s the first time since April, I believe.  I wore jeans last night since we went to see a movie at an outdoor venue.  I love fall.  We scrounged for warmer clothes last night, and I think I might have to do that whole clothing swap soon. 

Not today.

Today I’m going to sit and make waffles.  And take some deep breaths.  Maybe a nap.

No future in basketball or office administration

“Mom, where are my brown shorts?” asked Jenny.

“Brown shorts?” I parroted back.

She looked pointedly at the laundry hamper from which I was loading the washing machine.

“I wore them yesterday,” she said.

“Well, this is your hamper,” I replied, digging around, “and here is your matching shirt, but I don’t see your brown shorts.”

“Oh, that’s right.  I misfiled them.”

Misfiled them?”  I parroted again. *(see note)

“Yeah, I threw them at the basket and missed.  They must be on the floor upstairs.”

* Note: this parroting technique is taught at communication seminars and in marriage counseling classes.  By reflecting a person’s words one is able to confirm that the correct message is being heard without adding judgement or criticism.  This enables the speaker to clarify his or her message without getting defensive.  Do not confuse the skillful use of this method with the symptoms of DMS/DSS (Distracted Mother/Spouse Syndrome) wherein the person afflicted merely repeats words without true comprehension.

Lunch break

Jenny has a head band wrapped horizontally around her head.  She is holding two fingers up and saying, “Peace!”

These supposedly sheltered homeschoolers have somehow managed to learn about pop culture from an era that pre-dates me.  Where do they get this?  Is Netflix to blame?

Worse, though, is that Fritz’s response to her behavior is to take a Nerf gun and shoot her yelling, “Die, Hippie!”

I think it’s time to get back to work.

This and that

I still have to finish blogging about our trip to Atlanta.

(I never finished blogging about our trip to Disney…that was last January…so many photos, never posted…my children’s memory books will never be done…)

My book giveaway for The Invisible World was never claimed by Marylu.  Email me!

I feel like I’m on that playground ride that spins and you have to hold on tight or you’ll fall off.!

If you want to read that article about my husband’s unit without buying the magazine, the link is here.  No photo spread, but at least you get the story.

We’re on Week 6 of school.  I am flogging my children daily.  If they were A-types like me, we’d be on Week 8 or 9, but I won’t make them do more than their daily assignment M-F.  I secretly wish they would want to do school on Saturday or at least one extra assignment every day, but am resigned to the fact that they are not me.

Have a great day.

My First 5K

By 9 am yesterday, I was determined to not read any more of the newspaper or any blogs (I only read one, and it was a doozey).  I really don’t want to remember that day, ten years ago.  I think my life is very different today, all because of that event, and I wouldn’t change my life.  But that day hurt, and I don’t want to re-live it.

On to other topics.

Saturday, I ran my first ever 5K.  A 5K is a mere 3.1 miles, for those of you who aren’t familiar with them.  I have only run in 1 other race, two times in the Army Ten Miler in Washington, D.C. which caps its participation at some number over 20,000.  The race this weekend, the Pooler 5K (which donates the proceeds to my husband’s unit), is much much smaller than that ten mile long slog through the nation’s capital, both in length and number of participants.

While last year’s run was a lot of fun (great company at least), I felt each time that I did those ten miles, that it would be a much nicer race if it were only a 10K…6 miles is so much nicer.  After that, it’s just not fun any more.

10K races are hard to find, especially in my area (not a significant metro region).  After last year’s race, I decided I would train for a 5K…no more of this 10 mile stuff.  Having completed this 5K, I can say that this race, small venue/small distance, was great.  I may never run 10 miles again.  Here is why:

  • The race started at 8 am.  By 9 am, I was on my way home to get Peter ready for his football game, which was at 1030.  I even had time to shower before we left.
  • Parking was great; traffic was light.
  • I never ran more than 7 miles in my training program.  Generally, I ran 3 miles.  It doesn’t take that long to run 3 miles.
  • I was only a little bit sore on Saturday night.  I did not need to take any Advil.   
  • Although I did manage to lose my husband in the post-race “crowd”, I found lots of people I knew who could help point him out to me.
  • I didn’t feel the need to elbow my way past legions of pokey little puppies during the race.
  • I actually had enough energy left to sprint the last 100 yards.
  • I did not collapse at the end of the race, and after a few minutes and a half bottle of water, was able to move to the finish stretch to cheer on other racers.

Since it was my first race, I set a PR (Personal Record).  My goal was to do it in less than 30 minutes, and I did it in 28:47…with a pace of 9:17.  I generally run a 10 minute mile for a 3 mile run, and was pretty happy to do a 9:40 mile for a shorter run, so that pace is great!

Bill finished 1 second ahead of me – he says he had his chest stuck out.  He could have done it faster, but, sweet guy (not at all hard-bitten) wanted to keep me company.  I do run faster when he’s with me.  I might have run even faster if he was a quarter mile ahead of me, though. 

Best thing…to add to why small races are better than huge races:

  • I placed 8th in my age group with that time – and in the top half of the runners overall (210 out of 436…although 6 runners had errors in their time, actually making me 216 out of 436…still, barely, in the top half).

There’s another local 5K race in 9 weeks, and I plan to go.  I think I might be hooked.

Therapy Dogs and the Making of a Legend

I realize that it is unlikely that any person who reads my blog might also read Men’s Health magazine, but there does happen to be a great article in the October 2011 issue.  They did a piece on the therapy dog program at my husband’s unit.  Because this program is new (my husband’s got the only one), it is controversial (bureaucracies do not like new things).  But these dogs really seem to make a difference to some soldier’s mental health and overall ability to cope with life.

Much of the controversies have come from potential violations of regulations: pets are not allowed in barracks, only service dogs are permitted in buildings, working dogs (K-9) must be kenneled in certain ways, etc.  Therapy dogs are not exactly service dogs (like seeing-eye dogs) and they’re definitely not K-9, trained to sniff out drugs or guns or attack fleeing bad guys.  There have been growing pains as the unit has had to help define what a therapy dog is and how the dogs may live and work on post.

The Men’s Health article doesn’t talk about any of these issues.  It talks about the soldiers and how the dogs make them feel, how the dogs have improved their lives, calmed their nerves, soothed their tempers, and given them something outside of themselves to think about.  It’s an interesting read, and I hope that subscribers will come away with a greater appreciation of what some people suffer in the name of Freedom.


On a completely personal note, the article is a great keepsake for our family.  First of all, there a chest-up photo of my husband that takes up almost the entire page.  It’s nicely photo-shopped to remove any blemishes and add in a vague stubble, I guess for artistic purposes.  Secondly, Bill is quoted several times, and his quotes are added in twice on the 8 page article as a highlighted blurb. 

And lastly, and best of all, my husband, my husband, is described as “a buff, hard-bitten combat veteran” which sounds so very cool.  I had no idea I was married to Rambo.  I am so thrilled to be wed to such a walking example of testosterone-laden heroism.  Ladies, feel free to drool over my husband’s picture, but remember, he’s all mine.

I plan to take this article to a frame shop and have it mounted in some way.  It will hang on the wall of our home, and our daughters’ boyfriends will read it and know they can never compare (and hopefully worry about what Daddy might do to them if they break his little girls’ hearts).  Eventually, our grandchildren will read it and say to each other, “Wow!  Grandpa served in Afghanistan.  He must have been a really tough guy.  See, it says so right here.” 

And the myth will grow.  And I’m ok with that.